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Asia Unbound

CFR experts give their take on the cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today.

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Showing posts for "Cambodia"

Trump’s Asia, Delhi’s Smog, Park’s New PM, and More

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A member of student activist group, League of Filipino Students, displays an image of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump as he chants anti-U.S. slogans during a rally outside the U.S. embassy in Manila, Philippines, on November 10, 2016. (Erik De Castro/Reuters) A member of student activist group, League of Filipino Students, displays an image of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump as he chants anti-U.S. slogans during a rally outside the U.S. embassy in Manila, Philippines, on November 10, 2016. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Sherry Cho, Gabriella Meltzer, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Asia braces for Trump. On Tuesday night, as results from the U.S. general election poured in from polling places across America, Asian markets reeled at the prospect of a Trump presidency. By Thursday, U.S. markets stabilized and Asian markets had bounced back. But what will a Trump in the White House mean for Asia in the coming four years? At this point, even experts’ best guesses are still uncertain. Read more »

Where Next for Cambodian Politics?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
kem-sokha-cambodia Kem Sokha (C), leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), greets his supporters during his speech at the CNRP headquarters in Phnom Penh, on September 9, 2016. (Samrang Pring/Reuters)

Over the past two years, Cambodia’s government has steadily ramped up the pressure on the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), as well as on any civil society activists and journalists who question the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). In just the past year, security forces have cracked down on demonstrators holding regular Monday protests, while the government has pursued criminal charges against opposition leaders Kem Sokha and Sam Rainsy. In July, someone murdered prominent activist Kem Ley in broad daylight at a gas station, and while police have arrested one suspect, the motive for why he would kill the activist remains murky. Read more »

Cambodia’s Democratic Transition Has Collapsed, With Dangerous Consequences

by Joshua Kurlantzick
cambodia Tens of thousands of people attend a funeral procession to carry the body of Kem Ley, an anti-government figure and the head of a grassroots advocacy group, "Khmer for Khmer" who was shot dead on July 10, to his hometown, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on July 24, 2016. (Samrang Pring/Reuters)

As Cambodia prepares for national elections in two years, its politics have veered dangerously out of control. Even though young Cambodians are demanding political alternatives and accessing more information outside of state media, the country’s transition toward two-party politics has collapsed. The government’s brutal tactics of the 1990s and early 2000s, when political activists were routinely murdered and opposition parties nearly put out of business, have returned. Young Cambodians may be left with no outlet for their grievances, creating a potentially explosive situation, especially given the promise of reform and dialogue just a few years ago. Read more »

Q&A on Cambodia with Sophal Ear

by Joshua Kurlantzick
hun-sen-cambodia A Cambodian Muslim supporter takes a selfie with President of the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) and Prime Minister Hun Sen (C), after a ceremony at the party headquarters to mark the 65th anniversary of the establishment of the party in Phnom Penh on June 28, 2016. (Samrang Pring/Reuters)

Last week, I spoke via email with Sophal Ear, Associate Professor of Diplomacy & World Affairs at Occidental College, and author of Aid Dependence in Cambodia: How Foreign Assistance Undermines Democracy, about the current crisis in Cambodian politics. After a brief truce following elections in 2013, in which the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) shocked the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) by nearly winning control of the National Assembly, any semblance of détente has broken down. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of July 15, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Philippines-decision-waiting Activists watch an announcement by a government official regarding a ruling on the South China Sea disputes by an arbitration court in the Hague at a restaurant in Manila, Philippines, July 12, 2016. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Bochen Han, Theresa Lou, Gabriella Meltzer, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Asia reacts to the South China Sea decision. The ruling of the arbitral tribunal in the Philippines’ case against China regarding the South China Sea sent ripples across the region. The Chinese government responded with an unequivocal rejection and state media irately critiqued the tribunal’s award, which included a ruling that China was not entitled to historic rights in the waters and that the Spratly Islands—alone or individually—do not generate any exclusive economic zones. Read more »

Cambodia’s Turn Toward Authoritarianism (Again)

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at an event to celebrate Children's Day in Phnom Penh May 31, 2016. REUTERS/Samrang Pring Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at an event to celebrate Children's Day in Phnom Penh on May 31, 2016. (Samrang Pring/Reuters)

Over the past year, any hopes that Cambodia, where national elections almost led to a change in government three years ago, was headed toward a democratic transition, have been fully dashed. Prime Minister Hun Sen and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) are again taking complete control of the kingdom. In fact, as the country prepares for the next national elections, to be held in 2018, Hun Sen appears to be resorting to his usual combination of repressing opposition politicians and co-opting a small number of his opponents. These harsh but skillful tactics have helped him become the longest-serving non-royal ruler in Asia, surviving one of the most tumultuous political environments in the world. Read more »

Further Signs of Southeast Asia’s Political Regression

by Joshua Kurlantzick
prayuth-thailand Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha looks on before a weekly cabinet meeting at Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, on April 26, 2016. (Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

Three new annual reports, from the U.S. State Department, Freedom House, and Reporters without Borders, add further evidence to worries that much of Southeast Asia is experiencing an authoritarian revival. Released this week, Freedom House’s annual Freedom of the Press report (for which I served as a consultant for several Southeast Asia chapters) reveals that in nearly all the ten ASEAN nations, press freedom regressed significantly last year. Freedom House’s findings are similar those of Reporters Without Borders annual Press Freedom Index, which was released earlier this month. Read more »

The U.S.-ASEAN Summit: Final Thoughts

by Joshua Kurlantzick
U.S.-ASEAN-leaders summit-sunnylands U.S. President Barack Obama (C) is flanked by leaders from the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit during a group photo opportunity in Rancho Mirage, California, on February 16, 2016. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

The U.S.-ASEAN summit earlier this week, held at Sunnylands estate in California, was overshadowed by the death of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, and the political debate over his possible replacement. Many Southeast Asian leaders, who had looked forward to the summit as a sign of the Obama administration’s interest in the region, as well as a kind of blessing for hardline rulers like Cambodia’s Hun Sen and Thailand’s Prayuth Chan-ocha, were probably disappointed by how little attention the summit got from the U.S. media and from many U.S. politicians and opinion leaders. Read more »

Democratic Regression in Southeast Asia and the Islamic State

by Joshua Kurlantzick
indonesia-islamic state-trial An Indonesian policemen stands guard during the trial of Ahmad Junaedi, who is accused of supporting Islamic State, at West Jakarta court in Jakarta, on February 9, 2016. (Beawiharta/Reuters)

Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here

Part 3

Southeast Asia’s decade of democratic regression, which I examined in the previous blog post, reflects a worrying global retrenchment. Freedom House’s annual Freedom in the World report, which measures the spread or retrenchment of freedom globally, has reported ten straight years of declining global political freedom. In Freedom House’s 2016 edition of Freedom in the World, more than seventy countries registered declines in political freedom as compared to the prior year. Read more »

Democratic Regression and the Rise of Islamic State-Linked Militants in Southeast Asia

by Joshua Kurlantzick
indonesia-terrorism-southeast asia Indonesia Muslim youth salute during the ceremony of defending the country against terrorism, radicalism and drug in Jakarta, on January 17, 2016. (Beawiharta/Reuters)

Read Part 1 here

Part 2

After Jakarta’s initial successes against militants such as those from Jemaah Islamiah, a new generation of Islamists began to emerge in Southeast Asia in the late 2000s and early 2010s. Some had been students in schools set up, in the 1990s and 2000s, by earlier generations of radicals, while others had taken part in plots and attacks in the 1990s and 2000s and had survived the region-wide crackdown on Jemaah Islamiah and other militants. Read more »